There is no gold standard for résumés as you move from one industry to another. An engineer's résumé will look completely different than a web designer's, just as a technical writer's will be structured differently than that of a sales professional. Whether you have years of experience in sales or none at all, your résumé could make or break your chance at landing your dream sales position. [bctt tweet="6 #Résumé Tips to Help You Land a Great #Sales Gig, by @SINYCDave #careeradvice " username="StartupInst"]
Here are six key tips for your résumé for a sales position to help you stand out as a candidate:
1. Show them the numbers
If you're in sales, you know your numbers and how important they are. As you're hitting your monthly quota and improving your company's revenue, you understand the importance of impacting the bottom line. Don't distract hiring managers with needless jargon. Instead, show them hard facts and numbers that tell a clear story about what you have achieved in your career. Recruiters should know exactly who you sold to and for how much, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Salespeople operate in quantifiable results, so make sure your résumé reads the same way. For example, don't say you generated $100,000 without saying whether that figure was above or below your target goal. While you need to use your numbers, you also need to be able to show them why those numbers are important. [bctt tweet="Salespeople operate in quantifiable results—make sure your #résumé reads this way, says @SINYCDave" username="StartupInst"]
If you're entry-level, or simply new to sales and trying to land your first sales position, you may not have sales numbers to speak to, but you can still tell a story that resonates with the hiring managers. Focus on showcasing yourself as a numbers and results-driven professional by quantifying your past successes as much as possible. If you were a teacher, for example, you can include that your instruction led to better standardized test scores for 90 percent of the students in your classes. Or, if your background is in marketing, let your hiring manager know how your efforts on a particular campaign increased leads by 20 percent. As an aspiring salesperson, your potential employer wants to know that you can bring the numbers, so show them that you've done this in your past roles and can do it again.
2. What makes you unique?
When you apply for any job, you need to make sure you shine. Mention any awards, certifications, selling techniques you've mastered, and experiences that make you uniquely qualified for the job. Instead of listing various achievements at the bottom of your résumé for a sales position, be sure that the most relevant successes are front and center. Sales is about survival of the fittest and being the best man or woman for the job—don't be afraid to show-off a little bit.
3. Keep it clean, clear, and accurate
Clean up your résumé. Just as you'll need to get straight to the point by showing recruiters your sales statistics and results, you also want to make your résumé clear and concise. Cut out irrelevant details. Typos or formatting issues highlight an inattention to detail that could cost you a job. Meanwhile, you shouldn't leave any inconsistencies or wide gaps in employment in your experience section. Even if you weren't working in sales, include your volunteer work or jobs that could be relevant for the position you are applying for.
The pressure may be high, but be careful to showcase your best work without exaggerating your contributions. Results from a recent CareerBuilder survey of 2,500 hiring managers around the country showed that 56 percent of participants caught candidates lying on their résumés. Gray areas that qualify as lying include: inflated titles, incorrect attribution, and incorrect working dates. All of these inaccuracies could ruin your chances of landing the job so that you can begin closing sales at a new company.[bctt tweet="56% of hiring managers have caught candidates lying on their #résumés, says @CareerBuilder " username="StartupInst"]
4. Showcase transferable skills with action words
Again, sales is all about results. When you are articulating your accomplishments on your résumé for a sales position, describe how you achieved great results with strong action-packed statements. For example, instead of writing "has strong relationships with clients," spice-up your sentence with action and imagery, saying, "I cultivated relationships with a wide customer base in the cloud-based software industry and strategically discovered new consumer needs and pain points." In this instance, the words "cultivated" and "strategically discovered," emphasize the skills that went into building those strong relationships.
If you don't have prior experience in sales, it will be even more important that you choose phrasing that helps your hiring manager to clearly see the transferable skills that you've built in your past roles, and how these will ensure your success in sales. Relationship-building, for example, is a skill that can be developed in a range of industries, and one you'll definitely want to emphasize as you apply for sales roles.
[bctt tweet="Transitioning into #sales? Showcase #transferableskills with action words, says @SINYCDave" username="StartupInst"]
5. Don't forget your references
We're all used to including three or more references on a job application or résumé. Don't forget to keep connected with old employers and mentors and be certain to ask them if you can use them as a reference. If you do use them as a reference, be sure to thank them—whether or not you get the job—as it likely took time from their day to schedule the call and then share thoughtful insights with your prospective employer. If one of your references disputes certain claims you already made on your résumé, you could be in for a difficult situation, according to EyesOnSales—this is, again, why it is so important to be clear and accurate.[bctt tweet="Express gratitude to your #references—it takes time to share thoughtful insights, says @SINYCDave" username="StartupInst"]
6. Think outside of the box
Don't be afraid to think outside of the box while drafting your résumé. Sales is about going with your gut and taking risks—feel free to be bold. Tailor your résumé based on each individual role that you apply for. Imagine you are the hiring manager as you're finalizing your first draft. Be honest when you look it over and think about whether you would take the time to give it a second look. Of course, you should share it with mentors, former coworkers, and friends who can offer a fresh, critical perspective. Just as you'll try to sell your clients on new products or services, you want to discover the best way to sell your own skills and experience to your next hiring manager.[bctt tweet="Sales is often about taking risks—feel free to be bold on your #résumé, says @SINYCDave" username="StartupInst"]